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    Categories 2016DebatesDemocratic News

First Democratic debate: Winners and Losers

The first Democratic debate of the 2016 cycle took place last night from the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. All eyes were on Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders waiting for the jabs to start flying. However, as the evening wore on, the jabs were few and Clinton walked away with a performance that will most certainly help her moving forward.

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Report from the New York Times:

On Tuesday night, after months of political heartburn, things finally started cutting Hillary Rodham Clinton’s way.

Her performance at the first Democratic presidential debate was so commanding that even her greatest vulnerability — the lingering controversy over her private email practices as secretary of state — ended up redounding to her benefit.

After she crisply explained that she made a “mistake” using a private email server and defended her judgment, the moderator, Anderson Cooper of CNN, turned to her biggest threat in the primary campaign so far, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, in hopes that he would attack her. Mr. Sanders instead came to her aid.

“Let me say something that may not be great politics, but I think the secretary is right — and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails,” Mr. Sanders said to cheers and a standing ovation from the Democratic audience.

“Thank you!” Mrs. Clinton said, reaching out and shaking his hand. “Me, too! Me, too!”

That may have been the biggest headline of the night, that none of Hillary’s democratic challengers wanted to risk the ire of Democratic voters by harping on the same issues that the Republicans are harping on. For Hillary, count this a major victory as it lets her continue to paint the questions about her email practices, and the Benghazi terrorist attacks, as nothing more than partisan witch hunts by her political opponents.

However, as moderator Anderson Cooper tried to note, there is an FBI investigation into her State Department email setup so it’s not entirely a partisan issue. However, Cooper was drowned up and shut down by Sanders on the topic so it definitely swung Hillary’s direction.

As for the rest, I think Chafee came off somewhat aloof and unprepared. He stumbled for answers and didn’t defend himself very well. Martin O’Malley had a decent performance but nothing that is going to break him out into double-digit poll numbers.

Jim Webb may have been the most interesting candidate to watch on stage as he sided with more moderate positions than, perhaps, the entire rest of the Democratic field. On guns, Webb argued against gun control. On climate change, Webb argued in favor of “all of the above” energy including the use of nuclear power, something that often is derided in progressive circles. However, Webb is not going to move the needle with this performance because, as the rise of Bernie Sanders shows, the Democratic base is not looking for a conservative Democrat, they’re looking for a progressive leader to continue the work of President Obama on issues like social justice, climate change, and income inequality.

The bottom line is that Hillary Clinton emerged largely unscathed and came off very polished, she’ll surely be helped by this performance.

Nate Ashworth :Nate Ashworth is the Founder and Senior Editor of Election Central. He's been blogging elections and politics for almost a decade. He started covering the 2008 Presidential Election which turned into a full-time political blog in 2012 and 2016.

View Comments (14)

  • I agree. In order to shine, Webb needed to say controversial things. That would have caused others to respond, and that would have given him a chance for a rebuttal. Instead, he was pretty "milktoast" for Webb. He just stood there.

    And then he missed a chance in the summation. He should have noted that Chafee said he didn't leave the Republican Party, it left him--and Democrats are having the same problem. He should have said he was a member of the party of FDR and HST and JFK. That's when the country felt that the Democrats were "their party." Then, he should have said they need solid, centrist policies that average people can get behind. It's not about winning--it's about doing the right thing.

    But he didn't. He allowed himself to be sidelined, and his summation was bland. I don't see him recovering.

    Hillary was, as Obama once said, "Likable enough," but we've seen that "enough" is not enough. Meanwhile, Bernie came off as a crotchety old man, and Chafee just looked like a clown.

    As far as I'm concerned, O'Malley came off the best. He was serious without being angry, and direct. He was presidential. But the problem is that the media want oddballs. It makes better TV.

    And finally, while Clinton was not impressive, she didn't fail, either, so I don't see Biden getting into the race.

    • That's the real question: Was Hillary's performance good enough to keep Biden out?

      My answer would be yes it was. Biden doesn't want to get in and even a halfway decent debate for Hillary would be the excuse he's looking for to pass, in my opinion.

      Then again, I could be entirely wrong. Perhaps he's just waiting until the last possible minute and will spring an October surprise.

      • Nate --- where are the polls showing current standings of the Dem candidates (it's been a week since their "debate")?

        After the Repubs "debates" the polls were published within a few days... not so after the Dems "debated" --- why?

        Could it be that Hillary has slid further down (after MSM declared her the "winner" --- contrary to every independent source that claimed Bernie won hands down), thus, the Main Stream Media's deafening silence...?!

      • Nate --- that's a wrong assumption based on the "debate" alone.

        Biden's bosses will wait to see the polls, then make him jump in (since the Dem establishment demands one of their own ilk to have a shot at winning, not an outsider like Sanders).

        Also, this is Biden's last chance to grab ultimate power, before he becomes a drooling old Dem. This will play a major role in Village-Idiot-Joe's hubris overcoming common sense.

        • "Nonsense. "Biden's bosses" don't want Biden. They are just worried (rightly so) about Hillary. As Nate said, he doesn't want to run, and as long as Hillary doesn't totally screw up, he will stay on the sidelines. Bad news for the Democratic Party.

          From a tactical view, Biden should have gotten in to defend EVERYTHING about the Obama Administration. That would have given Hillary a chance to show that she's her own person. As it is, she has to defend Obama, to appear loyal, and that's a tough job.

          • Goethe kid,
            Once again you display your inability to reason logically.
            From the facts given, how do you FAIL to conclude that Biden WILL run...(I suggested extensive reading materials a long time ago, for you to improve your thinking ability --- from Plato to J.S. Mill --- but, obviously you don't care about getting an education, thus continue to post laughable nonsense).

            Let me try and explain it to you again, slowly this time...so you may comprehend it eventually:

            1) Biden is no different than Hillary --- both are narcissistic creatures that care only for themselves, NEVER for our Nation.

            pause....(elevator music plays till this sinks into your head)....

            2) Old Joe's last chance to grab ultimate power --- just like old Hillary's --- come 2020 both will be unrecognizable shriveled husks.

            pause....(elevator music plays till this sinks into your head)

            3) The Dem Bosses see Hillary's end --- Bernie Sanders spanked her in the debate (regardless the Mainstream Media's prevarications to the contrary) --- and they MUST HAVE another apparatchik running that is loyal to them, NOT to the American people: Joe Biden.

            pause....(elevator music plays till this sinks into your head)

            4) Hillary cries crocodile tears over FBI probes --- since she knows they'll find all the bad emails she deleted, and that will land her in jail (if there is any justice left in America). So, Biden has to fill in.

            pause....(elevator music plays till this sinks into your head)

            5) Hillary will be exposed as the guilty party in the Benghazi hearings shortly, and that should land her in jail, again (if there is any justice left in America). So, Biden has to fill in.

            pause....(elevator music plays till this sinks into your head)

            From all of the above --- you couldn't reach the logical conclusion that Biden WILL RUN...kid...?!

            pause....(elevator music plays till this sinks into your head)

          • OK, Mr. Know-it-all, exactly what will you do when Biden announces that he is NOT interested in running? Just slink away, as usual, or will you apologize for your abusiveness--or at the least, note that you were wrong again, as you have been so many times before?

      • No, I think you're absolutely right. While Hillary's fans (from 2008--who were not enough) are still with her, I think the Dem establishment sees her as a train wreck--and they're twisting Biden's arm. But I figure he's saying, "look, she did fine." But fine is not enough.

  • Kudos to Hillary Clinton's drama coaches and makeup artists that made this old narcissistic hag simulate a human being.

    Conclusions:

    1) Not watching the full Dem "debate" on a full stomach is recommended.

    2) All seemed to be concerned with reversing "global warming", instead of the trillions upon trillions of dollars deficits for their pet Gov Programs they'll saddle our nation with ZERO CHANCE of EVER REVERSING THE DEBT.

    3) All comments below will deal with Bernie and Hillary only (since the rest were obvious empty fillers to give the illusion of a multi-sided "debate").

    4) Bernie declares war on the rich --- Hillary does one better, the rich, and males.

    5) Hillary FLIP-FLOPPED on nearly every issue, and REWROTE her own history.

    6) Bernie BASHED THE 1% AND DOUBLED DOWN ON HIS socialist agenda that "works for every other nation in the world, except ours".

    7) On foreign policy --- all were taking nonsense.

    8) Hillary runs away from Benghazi and her private e-mails.

    9) Bernie defends Hillary on her FBI probed e-mails --- wow!

    10) Hillary refuses to respond on her illegal private e-mails (and gets an applause...how sad is that).

    11) "Do black lives matter, or do all lives matter?" --- Sanders is for black lives matter only; Hillary points out Obama as the spokesman for this travesty, then adroitly avoids her answer by spouting unrelated nonsense, and CNN does not press her to ANSWER THE QUESTION....).

    12) Hillary lies about NOT protecting Wall Street --- when in fact she's always done it, and Bernie finally gets upset, and puts her in her place.

    13) Hillary wants to be the 1st Female President --- not because she cares so much about women, but because she thinks putting down males will win it for her, and she'll be NOT ANOTHER CLINTON (LOL...she said so many times the CLINTON name, that it's funny), but an Obama extension.

    14) Sanders NAILED the PROBLEM with the rest --- THE ONLY CANDIDATE NOT BOUGHT BY SUPERPACS AND BILLIONAIRES!

    15) Joe Biden will be nuts not to jump into the race --- even this village idiot has a chance against the clowns that made this show....

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